Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

Peter (b. circa 1776 - d. ?)
MSA SC 5496-001625
War of 1812 Escaped Slave, Harford County, Maryland, 1814


In September 1814, "shortly before the Battle of North Point," Peter escaped from Aquila Nelson's farm in Harford County. One of sixteen slaves, Peter escaped along with George, and Mark, reaching the British frigate Menelaus near the mouth of Bush River in the Chesapeake Bay under the command of Sir Peter Parker. A fourth slave, Primus, joined them a few days later at "Deep Point" as the British sailed up the Bush River on barges.

The four men used their familiarity of the area to guide the British up the Bush River on a raid a few days after their escape. The troops burned three ships at Park Point, near Nelson's home, and stole the schooner Fox from Stump & Company at Harford Mills.1

Although Peter's actions and location are unknown following the War of 1812, there is reason to believe he may have travelled with the British to their colony in Halifax, Nova Scotia, along with thousands of other black refugees the British transported there from America.  There are several men named Peter that appear in the Halifax List which dates their arrivals from April 1815 to October 1818, but only two were listed with comparable ages:  Peter Bean, age forty, and Peter Bying, age forty, traveling with a wife and one child.2

Geographic representation of Nelson property, Peter's escape, and overview of slavery in Harford County on historical map available here (Google Earth required to open file).


1.     Claim of Aquila Nelson, Case 803, Case Files, compiled ca. 1827 - ca. 1828, documenting the period ca. 1814 - ca. 1828, *ARC Identifier 1174160 / MLR Number PI 177 190,* National Archives, College Park.
3.     Walter W. Preston, History of Harford County, Maryland (Baltimore, MD: Press of Sun Book Office, 1901) 217.

2.   "Halifax List."  African Nova Scotians: in the Age of Slavery and Abolition.  Nova Scotia Archives and Records Management.

Return to Peter's Introductory Page

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